how much wood to use?

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by smokedad, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    as a newbie to smoking, I had a question on how much wood to use for smoking meats.  I have only smoked meat once, and it was a small piece (2 lbs or under) that I used for practice.  I used hickory chunks for smoke, and it ended up having an almost overpowering smoky flavor (if there is such a thing), according to my family.  Is there some kind of ratio of wood to pounds of meat that people use, or is it all personal preference?  I'm sure there are more things than I can think of that affect how much wood to use, and experimenting with more meats and types of wood will help, but I'm looking for some general advice for starters.

    Do some types of wood produce a stronger smoke flavor than others?  Right now I have hickory and oak chunks, and apple and mesquite chips, available for use.  I plan on using charcoal in a Weber grill, and meat that would be 5 - 8 lbs, for smoking in the near future.  Thanks for any feedback.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Start slow, adding wood no more than one chunk or Cup of chips as needed for the first 4 hours. Fruit woods are more mild than Nut wood like Oak, Pecan and Hickory. Mesquite should be put away until your family develops a taste for smoke, one of the strongest flavors you can apply. If you have not already, take the free 5 day Ecourse. Below is a link to more info on smoking woods and some reading on smoking with a Kettle...JJ
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  3. [​IMG]   Chef JJ has you covered on mesquite.  Put that stuff away for future use!  I would eat cardboard smoked with mesquite but I am from Texas and grew up with it.  Not to everyones' taste.  Think of it like liquor.  Mesquite is the REALLY hard stuff!  Hickory can be strong.  Pecan is another staple smoking wood used in Texas.  What I use for guests is a mix.  2 parts pecan, one part oak and one part cherry.  Cherry adds a sweetness and will produce beautiful dark color to the meat.  Keep Smokin!

  4. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    Thanks for your responses.  I will read the links you sent, Chef Jimmy J, and look at the Ecourse.  I used 3 or 4 chunks of hickory for the steak I did, so that definitely sounds like too much, although I didn't mind the strong taste.  I will keep smoking and trying other woods. 

    I had a question on oak wood.  I have white oak and red oak chunks.  Does it matter which of those I use, or is there a definite taste difference between those oaks?
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    As far as Oak types, I can't say. I have only used oak pellets and have no idea what type they were. I doubt the average palate could taste a difference...JJ
  6. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Chef JJ has you definitely on the right track. If you ever have any meat safety questions, he is your man. I use red and white oak for cooking heat along with some pecan. For flavor, I use hickory on beef, Apple on pork and cherry on poultry. The apple and cherry can be switched or even mixed. They are great smoke flavors. Being from SC, I have never used mesquite and don't miss it.

    Good luck with your selections and good smokin', Joe. :grilling_smilie:
  7. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    Thanks, Chef JJ, for suggesting the Ecourse, I did sign up for that and am in the process of reading through that.

    Joe Black, you said that you use red and white oak for cooking heat.  Do you use wood for heat instead of charcoal, and then throw in some other wood for the smoke flavor? 

    Is there an ideal size for wood chunks to be that will be used for smoke flavor?  I have some oak and hickory pieces that I would need to cut into chunks to use for smoking, and I plan to get some apple wood pieces from a local orchard that would also needs to be cut up before use. 
  8. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I am in Texas and use mostly oak, hickory, and pecan on beef. Mesquite is a little strong and can overpower if used heavily, but it does burn really HOT. Mesquite will also have you burping smoke after the fact if applied to heavy, Find your taste bud that you like and smoke lightly with the thin blue smoke and stick to what makes your palette and family happy. You are off to a great start. Just throwing my 2 cents worth in.[​IMG]

  9. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I use about 2/3 basket of lump to get a good bed of coals and to start my smoker heating up. Then, I switch over to the oak splits totally. I always pre-heat my splits on top of the FB so that they will ignite very rapidly. The quick ignition will keep the added wood from smoldering and will eliminate most of the white smoke. It also helps to keep the heat up and avoid an excessive temp drop.

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